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A Newspaper That Makes Me Smile
by John Hamilton
The rationale behind mainstream news media has long been, people are more interested in disasters and fear: "That's what sells". The result is often anger and despair, which creates inaction on the part of the citizenry, which leaves the world in the hands of, you guessed it, those who publish mainstream news
Positive News US, a quarterly newspaper published in Ithaca New York, flips the traditional paradigm upside down and inside out. The free paper reports on people and projects around the world that bring us closer to a just, sustainable, and fun global culture. By combining success stories, readers get a real feel for what is being done, and what they themselves can do, and how the world can be. "Positive News inspires as well as informs," says co-editor Marty Luster. "It is more than a newspaper, it is a movement."
At last year's Global Peace Forum in Vancouver Canada, with over 5,000 attendees from 97 countries, Positive News US was the only US media present. Needless to say, the recent Media Reform Conference in Memphis did not make headline news, except in Positive News. From solar power in Hong Kong to indigenous leaders in Argentina, from the return of wolves to Germany, to Raging Grannies in Seattle, from growing organic beans in Ithaca to School of the Americas protests in Georgia, Positive News US shows what individuals and activists and governments are doing in areas of economic justice, peace, and respect for the earth. Clown/doctor/activist Patch Adams says, "So much more good news happens everyday than bad news, yet we have trouble reticulating good news - basic enthusiasm. Thank you so for your persistence."
The story of how Positive News US began is a perfect example of the contagious inspiration and leadership the paper describes and enhances. Over fourteen years ago, a small group of activists on a shoestring budget in England began publishing the first Positive News. Distributed free, the paper quickly spread throughout the UK and Ireland.
In the small Irish town of Bantry in 2001, a US visitor, Ilonka Wloch found a copy of the UK paper, and it was love at first sight. "When I was a child in Poland, both my parents were active in Solidarity,' she says. 'Positive News brought back the feelings of excitement of those times, of what individuals and groups can do to change the world.'
Ilonka brought copies of the UK paper home to her community in Ithaca New York. The paper landed like rainfall on a parched garden. She imported hundreds of copies of the UK edition, and then grew bolder. With the important support of Marty Luster, a well-liked former New York State assembleyman, and budding photographer; and the Center for Religion, Ethics, and Social Policy (CRESP), a local NGO umbrella group, as well as the enthusiastic blessing of the UK founders, Ilonka brought to life a US edition of Positive News.
Also, within another few years, editions of Positive News began in Hong Kong and Argentina, as well as the UK and US, with a combined global circulation of over 100,000 printed four times a year.
Today Positive News US is expanding rapidly, and affecting people all over the US. Through grassroots efforts, each edition is distributed, by single copy or bundles, throughout the US. In the Ithaca area, you can find copies in health food stores, car dealerships, doctor's offices, the malls, and in street boxes. A local non-profit distributes thousands of copies to prisons throughout the country.
One supporter Karen Boduch states, I have 3 children in the military. I found myself crying each time I heard the news coverage of the war. Now I do not listen to the news on the radio except for select stories on public radio, nor do I read the newspaper. When I found a copy of Positive News I was elated that I could actually read an entire newspaper and feel good about each and every article. I praise your efforts for publishing a newspaper that makes me smile.
One mother reports, My daughter is working to empower women in Tanzania. The only thing she asks for from the US is Positive News. She translates it and reads it to her friends there.
The paper is supported largely through subscriptions and advertising, with additional grant support.
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